These days my reading plan has me feeding on Jesus, as He makes His way to the cross, in “bite-sized” chunks. All of it is pretty familiar stuff. But oh, if I slow down and “chew my food” well, there are worship-evoking flavors to be savored afresh. Case in point? Pilate’s pronouncement.
`Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify Him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release Him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
I have found in Him no guilt deserving death. Those words rang out as I read them. “No guilt in Him,” says Pilate. “Why crucify Him?” he asks.
Pilate wasn’t necessarily bound by a high code of justice. After all, he was ready to beat up an innocent man some more if it would satisfy the blood lust of the crowd. But put to death a man in whom no guilt was found? Even for Pilate that seemed to be a bit extreme. But while there was in Him no guilt deserving death, I know that soon there would be on Him guilt deserving death.
While Pilate may not have been just, God is just. Thus, if rebellious, sinful, antagonistic image-bearers of God were to ever have a way back, any hope of a means of reconciliation, then it was necessary for their guilt to be found on Him.
But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:5-6 ESV)
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
(John 1:29 ESV)
Pilate didn’t see any reason on earth for Jesus to die. But our heavenly Father had purposed, before the foundation of the earth, to ransom a wayward creation through the precious blood of His promised Messiah (1Pet.1:18-20). To lay upon the guiltless One the guilt of our iniquity. Forever atoning for our transgression through the once for all, and once forever, sacrifice of His beloved Son.
Thus, while on earth delivering the Son of God over to the will of His creation seemed to be the most unjustifiable act of all time, Pilate was, in reality, delivering Jesus over to the Father’s will (Isa. 53:10) so that many could be justified forever (4:25).
No guilt in Him. My guilt on Him.
That I might know life eternal through Him.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Because of grace. For His glory.